It’s getting late in the game to influence the design of the development destined to create a new home for B&O Espresso and 78 units of housing at 1650 East Olive Way but there’s still time to have your say Wednesday night as the Capitol Hill Design Review Board holds its second session providing feedback and guidance on the project.
We’ve included the notes from the first review board session, below, as well as the original project packet provided by architects Nicholson Kovalchick. The 6-story project has been on a multi-year odyssey through the city’s development process as neighbors rallied to contain a massive development in their midst. Still, opposition exists.
The proposal is for a six-story, 78-unit residential building with 3,600 sq. ft. of retail/restaurant and two live-work units at ground floor (totaling 5,600 sq. ft.). Review includes 11,190 sq. ft. demolition of existing structures. Parking for 52 vehicles will be located below grade.
The applicant has applied for Design Review related to development of this site. At the Design Review Board meeting the applicant will present information about the proposed design and how it responds to the Design Guideline priorities established at the Early Design Guidance Board meeting on April 19, 2006, January 21, 2009 and March 4, 2009 and Recommendation meeting on January 19, 2011, regarding this site. The public may offer comments regarding the proposed design; and the Design Review Board members will offer to the Director of the Department of Planning and Development their recommendations regarding the design.
Date: Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Time: 08:00 p.m.
Location: Seattle University Alumni Relations and Admissions Building
824 12th Ave
In a recent comment posted to CHS, architect Veleta Witcraft posted an appeal for the design of the building to, among other things, do more to protect views from Capitol Hill:
…it has been pointed out to me that the building going up at the old B&O property will block the water view down to about 20% of what you can see now from Broadway. Goodbye Space Needle, goodbye mountains. The “view corridor” rules seem to have been overlooked until the last minute and are now being ignored.
You used to be able to see Lake Union as you moved along Westlake; now it’s hidden behind condos so only a few get the lovely view. This is happening all over the City. If you want to comment on Broadway losing it’s views you can chime in with others who sent this to the Mayor:
Dear Mayor McGinn,
We are writing to inform you of an upcoming Department of Planning and Development Master Use Permit Decision that will allow a new mixed-use development (apartments over commercial and parking) to block most of a SEPA-protected public view of the Olympic Mountains, Puget Sound and the downtown skyline along the designated East Olive Way Scenic Route.
The Seattle Municipal Code (25.05.675 P., Public View Protection) states:
· “Seattle has a magnificent natural setting of greenery, mountains, and water; visual amenities and opportunities are an integral part of the City’s environmental quality.”
· “It is the City’s policy to protect public views of significant natural and human-made features:…the Olympic… Mountains, the downtown skyline, and major bodies of water including Puget Sound…from public places consisting of the specified viewpoints, parks, scenic routes and view corridors, identified in Attachment 1.” (Olive Way is shown in Attachment 1 as a designated “protected view right-of-way”.) (Non-relevant text has been omitted here.)
· “The decisionmaker may condition or deny a proposal to eliminate or reduce its adverse impacts on designated public views…”
· “Mitigation measures may include, but are not limited to: requiring a change in the height of the development; requiring a change in the bulk of the development; requiring a redesign of the profile of the development; requiring on-site view corridors or requiring enhancements to off-site view corridors; relocating the project on the site…”
The proposed development is shown in the attached “Before & After Views” images. These images were prepared by the developer’s architect and submitted to DPD as part of a required analysis of impacts to the existing scenic view. The hand-written notes in red are from our public comments submitted to DPD. The current proposed build-out to be approved by DPD is shown in the lower left corner, noted “View reduced to 30% of current view.” (The build-out to be approved would chamfer the southwest corner of the building, instead of removing 5 feet along East Olive Way as noted, but the resulting amount of view blocked/preserved is the same. The chamfer is the proposed mitigation that DPD intends to approve.)
We feel that DPD’s decision to allow this proposed project to block 70% of the existing public view is:
· An inappropriate and highly unfortunate loss of a legislated community asset
· The privatization of a public amenity protected through legislation
· Very shortsighted, sacrificing the long-term benefit to the city’s residents, visitors and tourists for the short-term benefit of the developer and a handful of apartment dwellers fortunate enough to live in one of the west facing apartments.
· Most importantly, not complying with the legislated intent of this SEPA regulation: to preserve the public view that is “an integral part of the City’s environmental quality” (per SEPA 25.05.675 P.)
Consider how many people now use this heavily-trafficked public right-of-way and how many more will use this right-of-way once the new Light Rail station is completed at Broadway and East Olive Way/East John Street, and how wonderful it would be for all who will enter/exit the new light rail station to see the magnificent view of Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound instead of an apartment building that is blocking nearly all of this spectacular western view.
We strongly encourage you to take the time to visit this location on a clear day and walk west on E. Olive Way from Broadway near the current light rail construction site at Broadway and E. John to experience first hand what the loss of this beautiful legislated, protected view would mean to the neighborhood, the Capitol Hill community and the entire city when the development is built as proposed and as DPD currently intends to approve. There are only 2 designated, protected scenic routes looking west from Capitol Hill. This building, if built as proposed, would eliminate virtually half of those views.
We are also attaching two zoomed-in photos of the view, taken by us, which better show the mountains. In ‘Current View 1’ the new building would block all of the view on the right side of the photo, and extend approximately as far left as the short sign in the pedestrian island (next to the red parked car) in the middle of the street.
Thank you for your consideration on this issue and please feel free to contact us if you have any questions. We would also appreciate knowing if you intend to take any action on this matter.
This is an incredible, magnificent view, especially when the mountains are visible and we want to be sure you know about this upcoming DPD decision to allow a legally protected public View Corridor to be blocked by a new building.
The report from the first Capitol Hill Design Review session is below. It outlines the changes in the 1650 East Olive Way project design recommended by the board — including specific guidance related to preserving the Olive Way view:
The Board requested that the setbacks relate to material changes. The Belmont Ave setback in the MR zone did not appear to be meaningful. It should be greater and in keeping with the residential quality of the street. The MR zone should be acknowledged. In addition, the Board asked the architect to revisit the setback at the northeast corner which comprises a clearstory. The Board also discussed whether setbacks should occur at significant material changes.
Meanwhile, a South Lake Union community group is reaching out to Capitol Hill residents to get involved in the discussions about new zoning heights in the neighborhood and their impact on views from our neighborhood. This CHS community post details the situation for our neighbors to the west. A public hearing on the changes is slated for Marc 28th.